In an act of generosity and charity, XTO made a one-time contribution of $2 million for road repair in Carter, Bryan, Johnston, Love and Marshall counties. The Ardmore Chamber of Commerce will administer the Woodford Shale Road Repair Grant Program.
This is a unique and exciting program," Ardmore Chamber Chairman Bill Dolman, said. "We are unaware of any program like this in the state and we appreciate the generosity and support of XTO, a company that is proving to be a great corporate citizen."
Copies of the agreement were not made available following the press conference at the chamber of commerce building. The chamber will receive requests for road funding; verify their legitimacy before handing them over to an oversight committee, which will be made up of residents from the five counties, according to Mita Bates, chamber Vice President. Bates also said the chamber would seek input from community leaders in regard to who would serve on the committee starting with area chambers of commerce. She also said the Ardmore Chamber would reach out to county commissioners in the next two weeks.
"The counties will have a contingency source of money, but this is a one time event," Bates said. "What we are trying
to do is not within the normal scope of how things have been done."
Doug Schultze, XTO Sr. Vice President, Mid Continent Division, noted the commitment the company has made to the Woodford Shale and said the agreement presents a unique way to solve a problem which would allow stakeholder and mineral rights owners to have a say in what roads are fixed.
"This is a great opportunity to involve more stakeholders in the process," Schultze said. "I think this gives the people more opportunities to get involved and we have the opportunity to leverage this into something more, such as matching grants."
Schultze said partnering with the Ardmore Chamber gives the grant program a central focus, which is the biggest advantage. Prior to the grant program, XTO worked with commissioners and other entities and now it will only need to deal with the chamber, which will take on the role of administrator.
"Our operations are a collaborative effort among landowners, mineral owners, regulators and communities," Schultze said. "We chose to partner with the Ardmore Chamber in this program because of their unique position in the region. We are committed to being a good neighbor and we strongly believe that our success is directly linked to the success of the communities in which we do business."
Schultze also said he is hopeful people realize that although there have been road issues; XTO is not the only ones that use the roads.
"This is not only our issue," Schultze said.
Mike Todd, XTO regional manager of public and government affairs, said using the chamber as the administrator would allow for better communication as people might find it easier to approach the chamber with their concerns.
There is no definitive timetable to when everything will be set in place to begin considering grant requests, but XTO is hopeful it will be soon.
"We want to use the funds for some of the impacts taking place this year," Todd said.
For its efforts in the partnership, the chamber will receive a reimbursement fee. Bates said the fee is being negotiated but also said an allocation of funds have been given and the chamber could theoretically get nothing. Bates said the administrative fee would help cover engineering fees.
Michael Pineda